Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

UM Computer Science Alumni Create Cribspot.com

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(L-R) Kevin Gardner, Evan Dancer, Tim Jones, Jason Okrasinski, Alex Gross

Three former University of Michigan students are making a name for themselves in the growing Ann Arbor startup scene with cribspot.com. The startup helps college students find suitable places to live, while also helping landlords manage their properties.

The founders, Tim Jones and Evan Dancer, former Computer Science students, and Jason Okrasinski, a former Ross Business student, all graduated in May 2013 with the same goal in mind, to make the off-campus housing search as easy as possible.

Cribspot.com is a simple website that makes searching local rentals easy because it brings together thousands of listings on one searchable map. The startup differs from their competitors because they provide numerous resources for renters like neighborhood guides, advice for first-time renters, and tips from locals.

A map of available listings at the University of Michigan on cribspot.com

The company launched as a2cribs.com when the founders were still students in November 2012.  They then relaunched as cribspot.com in March 2013, which consisted only of sublets, and a few months later they expanded to full-year rentals and committed to working on the startup full time.

“It started with Jason Okrasinski and myself in a marketing/entrepreneurship class back during the Winter 2012 semester where we were tasked with developing startup ideas. Both of us had gone through the process of trying to find off-campus housing, having to spend hours finding old property manager websites and eventually resorting to just walking around campus knocking on doors. We both wanted to solve problems for college students, and were confident that the solution we were thinking of would really take off in Ann Arbor. Evan Dancer joined us shortly after that, and we eventually launched A2cribs.com in November 2012,” said Tim Jones.

They recently raised $660,000 in seed funding in a round led by Huron River Ventures and First Step Fund. In May 2014, they won $40,000 in cash and services at Techweek in Detroit and are actively searching for more seed funding to grow their company.

The startup has helped over 77,000 renters at U of M, MSU, University of Iowa, University of Cincinnati, University of Wisconsin, Ohio State University, and others to find off-campus housing since September 2013. They have also launched, Cribspot RentPay, which allows students to coordinate rent with housemates and set up online payments to any property manager.

The Cribspot headquarters is in the center of Downtown Ann Arbor on E. Huron St, which is the ideal location to be surrounded by their target market.

Their ultimate vision is to centralize the entire off-campus leasing process, from searching for listings to paying monthly rent. They’ve made great strides in simplifying the search process and updating antiquated practices for paying rent (like walking a check to the leasing office). They will continue to develop these features and add new ones as they expand to hundreds of college campuses across the country.


Posted: October 13, 2014